Hamilton City Council

Court Summary - at a glance

Date of offence:
20 September 2015
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Final decision date:
 
Fine imposed:
$38,250

Safety lessons learned:

1. Implement a two-keeper system with the dangerous animals, in particular the Sumatran tigers, at the zoo.

The two-keeper system could include strict procedures about cross checking by both staff that the gates are locked when required and the sliding gates in the ‘cat chute’ were closed when required.Further two keeper procedures could include that only one keeper is in charge and retains the keys required to lock the gates into position and that only one keeper (the one not in charge of the keys) would have the radio and/or mobile phone and would answer any calls received;

2. Keep the main keeper gate, a two gate system, in its original position at the entry of the cat chute gate into the enclosure.

This would mean that keepers are required to walk past the cat chute run before entering into the tiger enclosure. This then provides the keeper with a second chance to double check that the tigers have been contained in the off display tiger enclosure and the gates are closed before entering into the enclosure;

3. Paint the counter-weights on the cat chute sliding gates a bright colour.

This would have the effect of ensuring that at a glance the keeper can see whether the cat chute gates were up or down before entering into the tiger enclosure;

4. Fit mechanical interlock devices to all the gates, in particular the main keeper gate, at the tiger enclosure;

and

5. Erect signage at the keeper gates reminding keepers to double check that the tigers are secured.

Defendant name:
Hamilton City Council
 
Industry:
Arts and recreation
 
Date of offence:
20 September 2015
 
Facts in brief:
The Defendant owns and operates the Hamilton Zoo (“the zoo”). The zoo houses a number of exotic animals including Sumatran tigers.

The victim was employed by the defendant as a zoo curator at the zoo.

On the day of the incident, the victim went into the tiger enclosure to feed the tigers. She placed the tigers’ meat in the feed flap in the tiger den but did not close any gates between the outside enclosure and the tiger den. She later returned to the main tiger enclosure to cut bamboo for the red pandas.

The victim was found deceased in the main tiger enclosure.
 
Offence section:
Sections 6 and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
 
Date charged:

Court:
Hamilton - District Court
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Final decision date:
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Fine imposed:
$38,250
 
Maximum fine available:
$250,000
 
Reparation:
$10,361.60 for future financial loss ($116,000 paid outside of court included appropriate amount to be awarded for emotional harm of $100,000)